Pale Fire

by

Vladimir Nabokov

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Pale Fire can help.

Professor Hurley Character Analysis

Professor Hurley is the head of the English Department at Wordsmith College. After Shade’s death, Professor Hurley circulates a memo around the English Department that claims that Shade’s final poem, “Pale Fire,” has fallen into the hands of a man “unqualified” to edit it, who also happens to have a “deranged mind.” Of course, Professor Hurley is talking about Kinbote (whom the readers already know to be unreliable, which makes Hurley seem credible). Due to Hurley’s credibility, it’s worth believing him when he says that Kinbote’s story about Gradus trying to assassinate the exiled King of Zembla is nonsense—according to Hurley, Shade was shot by an escaped lunatic who mistook Shade for Judge Goldsworth, which is a much more believable story than Kinbote’s.
Get the entire Pale Fire LitChart as a printable PDF.
Pale Fire PDF

Professor Hurley Character Timeline in Pale Fire

The timeline below shows where the character Professor Hurley appears in Pale Fire. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Foreword
Identity, Delusion, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Loss and Longing Theme Icon
The Nature of Art Theme Icon
...a personal insult to his own competence and honesty. Right after Shade’s death, another professor—Professor Hurley—gave an interview suggesting that Shade intended “Pale Fire” to be far longer than four cantos.... (full context)
Identity, Delusion, and Loneliness Theme Icon
The Nature of Art Theme Icon
...not been in touch—it seems that “the Shadeans” negatively influenced her into asking that “ Prof H. ” and “Prof C.” become co-editors of the poem, a request that “precluded collaboration” with... (full context)
Commentary: Lines 49-98
Identity, Delusion, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Death, Mystery, and the Afterlife Theme Icon
Line 71: parents. Right after Shade’s death, Professor Hurley wrote an obituary in a mediocre journal. While bashing an obituary isn’t fit for the... (full context)
Identity, Delusion, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Death, Mystery, and the Afterlife Theme Icon
In Hurley’s obituary, there’s only one reference to “Pale Fire”—that Shade was working on an autobiographical poem... (full context)
Commentary: Lines 367-434
Identity, Delusion, and Loneliness Theme Icon
The Nature of Art Theme Icon
...but it’s also possible to take it as a reference to the current head, a professor Paul H., Jr. who is a terrible scholar. He and Kinbote sometimes interacted, but not often. Once, due... (full context)
Commentary: Lines 469-629
Identity, Delusion, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Loss and Longing Theme Icon
The Nature of Art Theme Icon
...but there were some good stories in New Wye. Once, at a party at the Hurley home, Kinbote spotted Shade talking to Hurley’s wife. As he approached them from behind, he... (full context)